Rho and Rho-kinase activity in adipocytes contributes to a vicious cycle in obesity that may involve mechanical stretch

Yoshikazu Hara, Shu Wakino, Yoshiyuki Tanabe, Maki Saito, Hirobumi Tokuyama, Naoki Washida, Satoru Tatematsu, Kyoko Yoshioka, Koichiro Homma, Kazuhiro Hasegawa, Hitoshi Minakuchi, Keiko Fujimura, Koji Hosoya, Koichi Hayashi, Koichi Nakayama, Hiroshi Itoh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Citations (Scopus)


The development of obesity involves multiple mechanisms. Here, we identify adipocyte signaling through the guanosine triphosphatase Rho and its effector Rho-kinase as one suchmechanism. Mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD) showed increased Rho-kinase activity in adipose tissue compared to mice fed a low-fat diet. Treatment with the Rho-kinase inhibitor fasudil attenuated weight gain and insulin resistance in mice on a HFD. Transgenic mice overexpressing an adipocyte-specific, dominant-negative form of RhoA (DN-RhoA TG mice) showed decreased Rho-kinase activity in adipocytes, decreased HFD-induced weight gain, and improved glucosemetabolism compared to wild-type littermates. Furthermore, compared to HFD-fed wild-type littermates, DN-RhoA TG mice on a HFD showed decreased adipocyte hypertrophy, reduced macrophage recruitment to adipose tissue, and lower expression of mRNAs encoding various adipocytokines. Lipid accumulation in cultured adipocytes was associated with increased Rho-kinase activity and increased abundance of adipocytokine transcripts, which was reversed by a Rho-kinase inhibitor. Direct application of mechanical stretch to mature adipocytes increased Rho-kinase activity and stress fiber formation. Stress fiber formation, which was also observed in adipocytes from HFD-fed mice, was prevented by Rho-kinase inhibition and in DN-RhoA TG mice. Our findings indicate that lipid accumulation in adipocytes activates Rho to Rho-kinase (Rho-Rho-kinase) signaling at least in part through mechanical stretch and implicate Rho-Rho-kinase signaling in inflammatory changes in adipose tissue in obesity. Thus, inhibition of Rho-Rho-kinase signaling may provide a therapeutic strategy for disrupting a vicious cycle of adipocyte stretch, Rho-Rho-kinase signaling, and inflammation of adipose tissue that contributes to and aggravates obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberra3
JournalScience Signaling
Issue number157
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Jan 25

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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